Freely chosen means that a child is able to make his own choices of when, how and what to play. The only intervention for an adult is to make sure that the environment or play is suitable and safe. A play or leisure has to be voluntary, spontaneous, the child has to be willing to participate and he cannot be forced to play. Children have the freedom to decide and by doing that we ensure that the child is happy and with a desire to success (for example in one activity they like and are good at or desire of winning a game).
Self- directed means that the child is initiating the play and is personally directing it. A child decide the rules and the role (pretend play or role play). For example a group of children playing on a field near their homes and away from the parents. These children direct the play themselves, they look for places to hide from the bad men or they explore and imagine they are pirates looking for a treasure hunt.
Freely chosen and self- directed play and leisure gives a lot of benefits related to the children’s development: Physically they are the best activities for exercise and keeping fit and healthy. Children like to be active from an early age and giving them the opportunity makes them keep doing it. With the language and communication development children learn a lot through the freedom of play and leisure. They learn about risk management and makes them aware of dangers, they talk with other children, invent stories, characters or other games helping to develop the creativity. It helps with the memory and with the problem solving skills, children become more aware of the environment.
They can learn at their own rate, they can repeat or move on. On the social and emotional development children play freely with other children and they have more interaction with them and adults, they have the feeling of happiness, they get excited, motivated and makes them self –confident for their achievements. Children learn about sharing, negotiation to find a common ground and turn taking. They can use the play to release the tension and they are able to express their feelings. With the pretend play children feel powerful and they can do whatever they wish (for example a super hero, a princess…).